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Judge dismisses reckless endangerment charges in Penn State frat pledge death

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. - A Centre County judge has thrown out all reckless endangerment and selling or furnishing liquor charges against 12 defendants who had preliminary hearings last week in the death of Timothy Piazza.

Judge Steven Lachman dismissed those set of charges against defendants and dismissed tampering with evidence charges against one of the defendants, who was accused of deleting the so-called "basement tape."

Lachman did hold several charges over for 11 of the 12 defendants, including charges of hazing.

“The Office of Attorney General is committed to seeking justice for Timothy Piazza and his family and holding responsible individuals accountable for their actions, consistent with the law and the evidence in this case,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “We are in the process of reviewing the judge’s decision to determine next steps, and are pleased that 11 more defendants we charged will be headed to trial.”

The decision comes after a three-day hearing, which concluded Friday.

Eleven of those defendants will go to trial on the held charges and join 11 other defendants heading to trial on misdemeanor charges.

Piazza family attorney Tom Kline issued the following statement on the decision.

"While pleased to see the charges of hazing and furnishing alcohol minors move forward against some defendants, Jim and Evelyn Piazza are dismayed by the dismissal of the tampering charges against one defendant, as well as the dismissal of reckless endangerment charges against another who was involved in the same ritualized hazing as others who were held for trial in the prior preliminary hearing. The Piazzas are hopeful that the Attorney General will file an appeal so that all individuals will be held fully responsible for their misconduct and so that dangerous and potentially lethal hazing will be deterred in the future."

In March, Judge Allen Sinclair dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges in the case, but the Attorney General's Office has since appealed that decision claiming that Sinclair over stepped his boundaries.

Piazza died in February of 2017 after a fall at the Beta Theta Pi House after a pledge event, which prosecutors have maintained was an alcohol-fueled hazing event.

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This story was written by Matthew Stevens of WJAC-TV

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